Professor Andy Stirling, Sussex University; Professor Andrew Blowers, Open University; Dr Phil Johnstone, Sussex University; Dr David Lowry, Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dr Ian Fairlie, formerly UK committee examining the radiation risks of internal emitters. Your business leader urges massive government intervention in support of new – as-yet not even designed – military-derived “small modular reactors” from Rolls Royce (“Government could save jobs at Rolls – if it reacts quickly”). Yet wind and solar energy prices are dropping precipitously. The British Isles have some of the best renewable resources in the world. There is no technical reason why the UK could not be fully and economically powered this way – more quickly creating far greater employment, with more secure export prospects. Even well-established forms of nuclear are rapidly declining in competitiveness worldwide. The nuclear industry has a track record of catastrophically expensive hype and disappointment on speculative new ventures like this, so there are no rational grounds to divert investment or employment away from renewables in the way you urge so strongly.
Observer 17th May 2020 read more »